Survive long bike road trips

So, you like to ride your bike all the time, going maybe two to five miles a few times a week. Why not go for a longer ride? Here’s how, with a bit of preparation, you can make sure you survive your trip with your sanity intact. In order to train for a long bike ride, you need a way to keep up with your riding, such as a simple cyclometer. You should be able to find one at a reasonable price. Before your bike ride, map your route with a car, noting landmarks every two and a half and every five miles, then just every five miles for the first twenty-five miles. These landmarks should be places where you can stop for water or a small snack. You should not stop at a landmark for more than ten minutes, nor should you make stops in between your landmarks. Begin with a thorough inspection of your bike, making sure that it is properly adjusted and ready to go. Then put your helmet on and head out to your first two and a half-mile landmark. Once you get there, think about how you are feeling. Are you ready to keep going to the next landmark, or do you need to turn back? Every five days of your training period, increase your distance. Within a month, you should be able to reach a goal of around fifty miles or so. If you travel at beginner’s speed, then you will be riding at a speed of somewhere around eight to ten miles per hour. Therefore, a fifty-mile ride should take you about five or six hours to complete. With every sport, there comes the risk of injury. There are many injuries associated with cycling. Many of these injuries can be easily avoided by following safety precautions and maintaining a constant level of awareness. However, even expert cyclists make mistakes. Common injuries include road rash, bruising, cuts, scrapes, and bug bites. These injuries will heal. There are some cycling injuries that will not heal by themselves. These injuries can be prevented if proper cycling techniques are employed and the cyclist does not train too hard, too quickly. Riders with more experience and multi speed bicycles may be to do a fifty-mile ride in under three hours. In fact, some seasoned riders can do a hundred mile ride in just over four hours. However, rides at this great of a distance should not be attempted unless have an interest in becoming a professional cyclist.

How do bicycles operate?

A bicycle’s performance, in both biological and mechanical terms, is extraordinarily efficient. In terms of the amount of energy a person must expend to travel a given distance, investigators have calculated it to be the most efficient self-powered means of transportation. In terms of the ratio of cargo weight a bicycle can carry to total weight, it is also a most efficient means of cargo transportation.

Mechanical efficiency

From a mechanical viewpoint, up to 99% of the energy delivered by the rider into the pedals is transmitted to the wheels (clean, lubricated new chain at 400W), although the use of gearing mechanisms reduces this by 1-7% (clean, well-lubricated derailleurs), 4-12% (chain with 3-speed hubs), or 10-20% (shaft drive with 3-speed hubs). The higher efficiencies in each range are achieved at higher power levels and in direct drive (hub gears) or with large driven cogs (derailleurs).

Energy efficiency

A human being traveling on a bicycle at 16–24 km/h (10–15 mph), using only the power required to walk, is the most energy-efficient means of human transport generally available. Air drag, which increases with the square of speed, requires increasingly higher power outputs relative to speed, power increasing with the cube of speed as power equals force times velocity. A bicycle in which the rider lies in a supine position is referred to as a recumbent bicycle or, if covered in an aerodynamic fairing to achieve very low air drag, as a streamliner. On firm, flat ground, a 70 kg (150 lb) person requires about 60 watts to walk at 5 km/h (3.1 mph). That same person on a bicycle, on the same ground, with the same power output, can travel at 15 km/h (9.3 mph) using an ordinary bicycle, so in these conditions the energy expenditure of cycling is one-third of walking.

Energy output

Active humans can produce between 1.5 W/kg (untrained women for longer periods) and 24 W/kg (top-class male athletes during 5 s). 5 W/kg is about the level reachable by ordinary male athletes for longer periods. Maximum power levels during one hour range from about 250 W (“healthy men”) to 500 W (exceptional men athletes)

Energy input

The energy input to the human body is in the form of food energy, usually quantified in kilocalories [kcal] or kiloJoules [kJ=kWs]. This can be related to a certain distance travelled and to body weight, giving units such as kJ/(km∙kg). The rate of food consumption, i.e. the amount consumed during a certain period ot time, is the input power. This can be measured in kcal/day or in J/s = W (1000 kcal/d ~ 48.5 W). This input power can be determined by measuring oxygen uptake, or in the long term food consumption, assuming no change of weight. This includes the power needed just for living, called the basal metabolic rate BMR or roughly the resting metabolic rate. The required food can also be calculated by dividing the output power by the muscle efficiency. This is 18-26%. From the example above, if a 70 kg person is cycling at 15 km/h by expending 60 W and a muscular efficiency of 20% is assumed, roughly 1 kJ/(km∙kg) extra food is required. For calculating the total food required during the trip, the BMR must first be added to the input power. If the 70 kg person is an old, short woman, her BMR could be 60 W, in all other cases a bit higher. Viewed this way the efficiency in this example is effectively halved and roughly 2 kJ/(km∙kg) total food is required. Although this shows a large relative increase in food required for low power cycling, in practice it is hardly noticed, as the extra energy cost of an hour’s cycling can be covered with 50 g nuts or chocolate. With long and fast or uphill cycling, the extra food requirement however becomes evident. To complete the efficiency calculation, the type of food consumed determines the overall efficiency. For this the energy needed to produce, distribute and cook the food must be considered.

Typical speeds

In utility cycling there is a large variation; an elderly person on an upright roadster might do less than 10 km/h (6.2 mph) while a fitter or younger person could easily do twice that on the same bicycle. For cyclists in Copenhagen, the average cycling speed is 15.5 km/h (9.6 mph). On a racing bicycle, a reasonably fit rider can ride at 40 km/h (25 mph) on flat ground for short periods

Reduction of weight and rotating mass

There has been major corporate competition to lower the weight of racing bikes in order to be faster uphill and accelerating. The UCI sets a limit of 6.8 kg on the minimum weight of bicycles to be used in sanctioned races

5 reasons to cycle to work

Making New Year’s resolutions to save money, get healthy, or cut your carbon footprint in 2015? You could hit all three by simply riding your bike to work. Here are 5 reasons you should consider making it a new habit this year:   Not only does biking have the potential to improve individuals’ health, wealth, and standard of living, but the combination of more cyclists and fewer cars on the road could give the entire country a much-needed boost.

It would make cycling safer for everyone.

Research shows that unlike cars, the more bicycles on the road, the safer it becomes for cyclists. “It’s a virtuous cycle,” Dr. Julie Hatfield, an injury expert from the University of New South Wales, says. “The likelihood that an individual cyclist will be struck by a motorist falls with increasing rate of bicycling in a community. And the safer cycling is perceived to be, the more people are prepared to cycle.”

It is vastly cheaper than driving.

Due to rising fuel costs and tire upkeep, the cost of owning a car increased nearly 2% in 2012 to $US8,946, according to AAA. It costs just $US308 per year to keep bikes in shape — nearly 30 times less than cars, according to the Sierra Club. It says: “If American drivers were to make just one four-mile round trip each week with a bicycle instead of a car, they would save nearly 2 billion gallons of gas. At $US4 per gallon, total savings would be $US7.3 billion a year.”

It’s a free gym on wheels.

On average, bicycle commuters lose 13 pounds in their first year of cycling alone. “[Bike commuting] can be a very effective cardiovascular benefit,” says Lisa Callahan, MD, of the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. “If you’re overweight and start an exercise program, sometimes it’s harder on your joints because you are overweight, so something like swimming or biking that’s not pounding on the joints can be a good thing.”

You won’t miss morning traffic jams.

Americans spend upwards of 25 minutes per day commuting to work and more than $700 per year simply burning fumes in traffic Cycling could help you get there faster for a lot less. “Half of the working population in the U.S. commutes five miles or less to work, with bike trips of three to five miles taking less time or the same amount of time as commuting by car,” writes Kiplinger editor Amanda Lilly.

You don’t even have to own a bike.

There’s been a wave of new bike share programs in major cities like Washington, D.C., Boston, Chicago, and Miami, which typically allow riders 30 to 45 minutes of transportation for a small annual fee. When New York City’s bike share launched in May, annual memberships cost $US95 — about $US10 less than subway commuters spend per month.